What's in a Reference?

16 March, 2016

I was playing a game of "One Gotta Go" with some friends and the three things at risk of "going" were: Books, TV, and Movies. No one chose books, even though most people admitted that they spend the least amount of time on books. Why is that?

In another grouping the three options were: Social Media, Streaming TV/Movies, and Streaming Music. Social Media was put on the chopping block.

We rely on TV, movies, and music for our references, very seldom books, unless you're rather bookish and so are your friends. To deny yourself the sources of references means potentially being difficult to relate to, or, at worst, socially alienating yourself, since people often get along talking about shared interests.

References are also very common ways to make people laugh. Memes are a foremost example of this, and references can amplify your comment. If you say something topical, it is funny, because of timing and wit. But I think that references, at times, become an end in themselves. The reference becomes the substance rather than the thing that helps add substance. It is the thing that is funny.

Social media is certainly a big driver of this. Perhaps, in a world without it, we could engage with movies and TV (and books) on a less superficial level? Just a thought. In any case, my assumption about why people wanted to keeps books is superficial, too: many of us have been brought up to believe they are important. We can't just throw that away, even if we don't always practice what we believe.

Two weeks after originally publishing this, there was a flare-up with a Gmail April Fool's joke that was quickly rescinded. As someone fond of neither mic drops nor minions, it was tough to read about.